During one of my first Political Science classes, I had a thought that I was suprised I hadn’t had before.
How coincidental is it that relatively half of the country supports each political party? How is it that we constantly switch between Republican and Democrat controlled governance? You would think that as a nation, we would make up our mind and definitively decide who we like more after over 100 years of trial and error.
This isn’t exactly the most profound thought, but I think the explanation is an important one.
A quick (and fairly valid) response would be that our political parties really aren’t that different. Democrats and Republican’s fundamentally run the government the same way, even if their dialogue is fundamentally different. While this is relatively true, I don’t like when people use it as an argument to support third parties, rather than Democrats and Republicans. They govern similarly not because they want to but because they have to. Our system of checks and balances prevents each party from governing the way the would truly like to. As a result, each party’s actions are usually much closer to the center than their words. Many view this as the parties being bought out or watered down, and they think third parties would govern better, but they would still be subjected to the same process of being watered-down. Don’t confuse a symptom of the system for a flaw in the party.
Not to say the parties aren’t flawed – they certainly are. but that is just because government is inherintly flawed. I don’t need the idea of government, I mean its implementation. The overall state of the country has its ups and downs, but unfortunately, people will be generally dissatisfied with certain aspects of their country and their lives.
Every election cycle the minority party declares we need a change from the norm. Well.. yeah… we always need some sort of change. As much as some people think they should be, the majority party is not responsible for most of the things that go on in the country. Sure, it is easy to blame them. But unless you can link a specific policy with negative aspect of our nation/economy/society etc, there is no reason to vote them out.
But we do. Constantly. Year after year we confuse general dissatisfaction with political failure and turn to something different for potentially better results. I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote a party out of power but if things suck under one party, who’s to say they won’t be worse under the other?
Or at least that’s what I think.
- Michael Clauw